How fat-shaming brainwashed me to be thankful for gettin’ it, even if I didn’t like it.
I have a confession. I have had sex with people I didn’t really like. *Gasp!*
Let me explain.
For about a year, I was having on-and-off casual sex with someone who was extremely handsome. Let’s call him Chad. Chad was over 6 feet tall, covered in sexy tattoos and sported a man-bun. I was in total awe of his look. While he was beyond attractive, his personality wasn’t what I would call “respectful.” He would push my head down when I was blowing him because he thought inducing gags would be hot (one time I actually threw up all over his penis! oops!). He refused to perform oral on me because I “smelled,” and he wrote a rap song about me in which he referred to me as “his bitch” to whom he “gives good finger” and with whom he would never fall in love. Although now I look at all of these events as funny, embarrassing stories to tell during a girls’ night out, I think a deeper meaning can be found in the question: “WHY THE HELL DID I KEEP HOOKING UP WITH THIS WEIRD-ASS DUDE???”
I didn’t say “no” to going all the way, because I felt like I should be thankful that at least someone swiped right on me. I felt like I should suck it up and have the sex that is so hard to get.Hannah Schweitzer
In elementary school, my friends enjoyed poking my legs and laughing at how much they jiggled. I absorbed that my body was good for being funny, not for being pretty, and I carried that mentality throughout high school.
I identified as a girl you laugh at, not fuck.
I deemed this stereotype of myself as normal because I had it programmed in my mind that non-skinny women were simply undesirable. After all, the main character who gets the steamy action in romantic comedies was always skinny. The fat, funny sidekicks, on the other hand, were asexual.
When Quantasia Sharpton sued Usher in 2015 for neglecting to tell her he had herpes before their sexual encounter, fans argued that she had to be lying because Usher would never have sex with a big woman. Tweets read:
- “I refuse to believe Usher would fuck this”
- “That moment during the #Pressconference that I found out that #usher was rich with low standards”
- “Fuck this fat bitch usher ain’t touch her big ass.”
In fact, some sexual assault survivors purposefully gain weight in order to seem “less desirable.” “[Bigger women] are so far removed from the public narrative around issues of assault and harassment,” writes Jessi Rosi from the Chicago Tribune, “if someone shows a sign to the contrary — take what you can get. Take it as a compliment.”
In summary, yikes.
It was cases like these that made me think that I would have to try a little harder to get someone to desire me. I felt like because of my size, I was just going to have to miss out on amazing, pleasurable sex. I internalized the stereotype of the “funny unfuckable girl.’’ Of course my hookup stories were always going to be awkward and become jokes, I thought. Only skinny people have steamy, orgasmic sex.
These thoughts caused me to have many casual Tinder hook-ups, even if I wasn’t even really into the person. I didn’t say “no” to going all the way, because I felt like I should be thankful that at least someone swiped right on me. I felt like I should suck it up and have the sex that is so hard to get.
And so we make it back to Chad, the demeaning man-bun man. I thought I couldn’t get someone nice, because that would be too much to wish for. Once I found at least SOMEONE who would have sex with me, he was a keeper, because there weren’t a lot of men out there that would want someone with my looks. My thighs are big, so I would have to make concessions.
It eventually hit me that I deserved better. These past few months I have been on a mission to love myself more. I went on antidepressants in order to help me control my self-hating thoughts. I started therapy and found ways to talk out why I was torturing myself with disrespectful sex. I masturbated more to normalize the fact that my pleasure isn’t gross or shameful. I educated myself more on what healthy, enthusiastic and pleasurable sex looks like. I unfollowed social media accounts that made me feel bad. I listened to my emotions and paid attention to which friends made me feel better about myself and actively chose to hang out with them more. Once I found my own worth, l started demanding other people to see it as well. So finally, I dropped Chad. I saw the possibility for my jiggly belly and lumpy ass to have amazing sex with someone that respected me!
You deserve better, too. People of all shapes, sizes and colors deserve to feel pleasured and comfortable. In order to change the world to this mindset, the media must showcase people of all shapes, sizes and colors as worthy of sexual affection. We must also strive for more positive and inclusive sex education. I demand sex ed programs that:
- Teach how to openly communicate what you want in bed rather than dealing with unenjoyable, disrespectful sex.
- Debunk the myth of more sexual action equaling more worth.
- Present more diversity of sizes, colors, ability, sexualities and other identities when talking about sex.
- Teach that sexual assault stems from power, not desire.
- Teach students techniques to raise their self-esteem and find their worth beyond looks.
If you aren’t fully enjoying what you are engaging in, I encourage you to courageously look for better. I remind you that you don’t have to “get it” to feel desirable. You don’t have to feel thankful for “gettin’ it” if you aren’t into it. Better is out there and better is for everyone. Hold yourself to the higher standard of respect that you deserve.
*I want to acknowledge my privilege as an able-bodied straight cis white woman, and I am aware that self-esteem issues and shame towards others is prevalent. -HS
Hannah Schweitzer is Popularly Positive’s Sex Editor and the host of Boston University’s “Love is on the Air.” She can be pitched using email@example.com.